Gov. Mark Dayton is holding a town hall meeting today in Isle, Minn. to discuss the needs of resort owners of Lake Mille Lacs. The DNR is closing the walleye season early due to low numbers of fish in the lake. Dayton is advocating a special session to address the economic woes of the resort owners, writes MPR News reporter Tom Scheck.
DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk agrees a working group should be formed to discuss the walleye situation on Mille Lacs. But he also supports Dayton’s call for a special session. Bakk disagrees with the notion that state government should not help area businesses. He said the Legislature helps other industries, including taconite workers on the Iron Range, farmers and turkey producers.
“We’re creating less volume in business traffic, so I think we have some obligation,” Bakk said. “It’s kind of like if we took a road out and you can’t access your business any longer. There’s a process, through the Legislative Coordinating Commission, where a business can come and look for relief in those kind of situations, and they do.”
Bakk said the details of public assistance have to be worked out, but it could likely include zero-interest loans, tourism promotion and property tax relief.
Dayton, too, defended the idea of providing state help to resort owners. A recent economic survey of Mille Lacs County showed that 22 percent of the workforce is in the leisure and tourism industry. That’s second only to education and health services.
Today’s Question: Should Minnesota provide relief for Lake Mille Lacs resort owners?